Highlands & Islands

Brain family can stay in UK says Home Office

The Brain family Image copyright PA
Image caption The Home Office has said the Brain family can stay in the UK

An Australian family that had been facing deportation has been granted permission to continue living in the UK by the Home Office.

Gregg and Kathryn Brain and their son Lachlan, who live in Dingwall in the Highlands, have been trying to qualify for a new visa.

The family initially moved to the UK in 2011 on Mrs Brain's student visa.

They had intended to move to a post-study visa but this scheme was withdrawn by the UK government.

Mrs Brain has now secured a job that meets visa regulations and the Home Office confirmed she would be allowed to remain in the UK.

She has been offered work as a museum curator and historian with Macdonald Hotels in Aviemore.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, Mrs Brain said: "I just can't describe how I feel. It's just been seven months now we've been without work and struggling and fighting through this whole process."

She added: "We've got a brilliant employer on board who already has a sponsorship licence in place.

"They had to get a certificate of sponsorship for this particular position but the position itself meets all the criteria for the Home Office."

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Media captionThe Brain family have met the visa requirements allowing them to stay in the UK

Macdonald Highland Resort chief executive Simon Farr said: "Aviemore is our flagship resort and we are excited about the forthcoming celebrations of its 50th anniversary.

"We are keen to do it justice and Mrs Brain's background in Scottish history is one of several attributes which led us to appoint her to the role of visitor centre museum curator.

"We are pleased that this could help enable her and her family to remain in Scotland."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We have always been clear with the Brain family that if a suitable job offer was received an application to remain in the UK would be considered.

"We gave them a number of extensions on an exceptional basis to allow them to try to secure a job that would allow them to meet the Immigration Rules.

"Mrs Brain was subsequently offered a job with a hotel group.

"This has been considered and we are satisfied that it meets the conditions for a Tier 2 visa. Today we have written to Mrs Brain and confirmed that she and her family have been granted leave to remain in the UK."

Brain family timeline

December 2010: Kathryn Brain is granted a student visa with husband and son as dependants. She intends to later move onto post-study work visa

March 2011: Announcement of cancellation of post-study work visa (tier 1)

June 2011: Brains arrive in Scotland.

April 2012: Post-study work visa scrapped. Brains say it was around that time they became aware of this change

May 2015: Mrs Brain applies for leave to remain under tier 4 (student) visa. Granted till December

December 2015: Family makes application for leave to remain made under article 8 of the European convention on human rights, the right to a family life. Refused in March

April 2016: Immigration Minister James Brokenshire extends family's "grace period" to remain in UK until 11 May. It is later extended until the end of May

30 May 2016: Family given new deadline of 1 August 2016

2 August 2016: The deadline passes but the Brains claimed that Kathryn had job offers which would qualify for a visa

20 September: The Home Office confirms Mrs Brain's job meets the conditions for a Tier 2 visa

Right to remain

Mrs Brain had been trying to secure a job that met the visa regulations.

The family had previously been granted temporary extensions to their stay by the Home Office until 1 August this year.

Speaking after confirmation came through they could stay, Gregg Brain said: "We've had extraordinary support from our church community and the community here in the Highlands.

"We've had people who have sent cheques to us from Oxfordshire.

"To all those people, thank you so very much - it's made the difference for us."

Image copyright PA

Their case has been heard by parliamentary committees of MPs and MSPs.

SNP MP Ian Blackford, MSP Kate Forbes and Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon have been among politicians calling on the Home Office to allow the family to remain in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon welcomed the decision to allow the family to stay.

She said: "I'm glad the UK Government has finally seen sense on this occasion - but the Brains should not have had this cloud of uncertainty hanging over them for so long.

"This case also illustrates a wider issue, which is that the UK government must deliver an immigration system that meets Scotland's needs and which allows talented international graduates and others with key skills to remain in Scotland after their studies are complete. We will continue to press for this."

The Brains moved to Scotland in 2011 on Mrs Brain's student visa.

They had expected to be able to later apply to move on to a Tier 1 post-study work visa, but the scheme was scrapped in 2012.

The announcement that the scheme was going to be abolished was made three months before the Brains arrived in Scotland, but the family said they were unaware of this change until 2012.

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